The band is still melting faces with old school heavy metal after more than fifty years on the road

Judas Priest live 2024 Invincible Shield Tour
Judas Priest [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Last night, heavy metal juggernauts Judas Priest brought their highly anticipated Invincible Shield Tour to the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. Just the third stop on the U.S. trek, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers already have the engines revving after kicking things off in Europe. The last time Judas Priest were on U.S. soil was last October for their triumphant performance at Power Trip in California alongside Metallica, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, and Tool. They graciously stepped in for Ozzy Osbourne, who had to bow out due to health issues. Judas Priest announced their now-released album, Invincible Shield, on stage, and then proceeded to show the music world why they more than deserve to be mentioned with the likes of their fellow Power Trip performers.

Check out our live photo galleries from the show below.

Sabaton served as special guests for Priest in 2021 on their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour. That tour actually kicked off right here at Santander Arena, a venue that has rich rock and metal roots. This time, the Swedish metal titans brought their massive army tank drum kit, greatly enhancing their already formidable stage presence. The last time they were here, the group debuted a new song, “Steel Commanders.” While it didn’t make the cut this time around, fans still got a solid 12-song set of hits. They started off with “Ghost Division, the launched right into “The Last Stand.” Other highlights included “The Red Baron,” “The Last Stand,” “Bismarck,” “Stormtroopers,” “Primo Victoria,” and more. They closed out their set with “To Hell and Back.”

Sabaton [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Another treat for fans was witnessing the return of guitarist Thobbe Englund. After a previous stint with the band from 2012 to 2016, Sabaton brought Englund back into the band following the departure of Tommy Johansson. Back in January, Johansson decided to part ways with the group to “pursue his own path” after seven years with the group. On stage last night, frontman Joakim Brodén made a special acknowledgement of Thobbe’s return. Being back at the Santander Arena supporting Judas Priest, with a former member back in the band, was quite a full-circle moment for Sabaton.

While certainly a niche band in metal music, Sabaton are a thrill to see live. Monster riffs and sweeping melodies accompanied by Brodén’s soaring vocals captivated the crowd before Judas Priest. Sabaton certainly won over some new fans last time they invaded this building, and they delivered the goods once again last night to a sold-out crowd.

Sabaton released their tenth studio album, The War to End All Wars, in 2022. It performed well, topping the Swedish Albums Chart and peaking at No. 2 on the UK Rock & Metal Albums chart and No. 9 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. The record serves as a sequel to their 2019 outing, The Great War.

Last April, Sabaton released a cover of Motörhead’s “1916.”

Sabaton [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

When Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” began to blast through the arena speakers, the energy in room was palpable. The crowd was singing every word in high anticipation for Priest. The lights went down, the curtain dropped, and the band appeared all together, stacked on Scott Travis’s drum riser. They tore into “Panic Attack,” the lead single from their latest hit album and tour namesake. Never a band to rely solely on their classic hits, it would be the first of three helpings of Invincible Shield.

From there, Priest bombarded the crowed with a hefty 18-song set. After opening with a new tune, they launched right into one of their biggest hits – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” Showing absolutely no mercy, they ripped through “Rapid Fire” next. Just three songs in, any doubt that this band might be slowing down after five decades was quickly eviscerated. Another massive hit, “Breaking the Law,” immediately followed. What a wild start it was.

Judas Priest [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Early in the set, frontman Rob Halford elicited an eruption from the capacity crowd at Santander Arena when he said, “This city – Reading, Pennsylvania – and this building, is such a great venue for heavy fucking metal!” And he’s not wrong at all. In recent years, Santander Arena and the Santander Performing Arts Center has hosted the likes of Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Buddy Guy, Alice In Chains, Elton John, REO Speedwagon, The Doobie Brothers, Disturbed, Halestorm, A Day to Remember, and many more. In 2018, the Arena played host to thrash metal legends Slayer on their Final Campaign tour along with Anthrax, Lamb of God, and Behemoth. Serving strong country and Latin markets as well, Santander Arena has become one of the most dominant secondary market venues in the country.

Judas Priest [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Other highlights from the set included “Lightning Strike,” “Turbo Lover,” “Sinner,” “Victims of Change,” and the all-new “Crown of Horns,” among others. They pulled tracks from eleven different records out out of the total nineteen in their discography, an impressive sampling of their storied career. They wrapped up their set with the strongest song in their entire catalog – “Painkiller.”

With the crowed needing more, Priest returned and delivered. As “The Hellion” began to play through the speakers, the band launched into a three-song encore of “The Electric Eye, “Hell Bent for Leather,” and “Livin’ After Midnight.” After a set like that, the fans definitely wished the show would keep going well after midnight. Per usual, Priest did not disappoint. They rarely do, if ever. While we’re not sure just how much gas they have left in the tank, the band is racing full speed ahead powered by their latest hit record.

Judas Priest [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Judas Priest’s Metal Masters Tour wrapped up back on on April 8 at Zenith in Paris, France. In addition to Saxon and Uriah Heep, Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons joined the bill at the Mediolanum Forum show in Milan, Italy on April 6. The U.S. leg of the band’s Invincible Shield Tour began on April 18 at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut, and runs through up on May 22 at Empower Federal Credit Union Amphitheater in Syracuse, New York. The band will be making stops at the Prudential Center, Santander Arena, The Armory, and more. The run includes a featured performance at Welcome to Rockville in May alongside Mötley Crüe, Foo Fighters, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, and many others. Very special guests for the trek will be Swedish metal juggernauts Sabaton.

After the U.S. leg, the run resumes on July 1 at Barclays Arena in Hamburg, Germany along with Saxon and Uriah Heep once again.

Judas Priest [© Matt Bishop/The Rock Revival]

Fresh off their 50th anniversary celebrations, the band’s latest LP Invincible Shield is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2018 album, Firepower. The latter record was the band’s biggest commercial success, charting at No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart and Billboard 200 as well as hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Hard Rock Albums chart. For Firepower, Judas Priest reunited with producer Tom Allom (Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Krokus), who last produced the band’s 1988 album, Ram It Down. The record was co-produced by Andy Sneap, who would stepped in as a touring guitarist for the band. Long-time member Glenn Tipton retired from touring after revealing his Parkinson’s diagnoses, just one month before the album’s release. Tipton co-wrote every song on Firepower. After delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judas Priest toured relentlessly to celebrate the success of Firepower and the band’s five decades of heavy metal.

Judas Priest’s nineteenth studio effort Invincible Shield was released back on March 6. Anchored by the lead single, “Panic Attack,” the album performed well commercially. It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Hard Rock Albums chart, and No. 4 on Top Rock Albums. It peaked at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart, and topped the UK Rock & Metal albums chart. After selling over 50 million albums worldwide, Judas Priest were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.

Judas Priest – Live Photo Gallery: